Sandwich Generation used to mean kids who liked two slices of bread with something like peanut butter, cream cheese, or tuna inside.
As people became more health conscious they went from white bread to whole wheat, to a single slice, to melba toast, to no bread altogether! Just throw any protein into a salad and that was the new sandwich! Or, of course, there emerged the health bar, though, who knows what really lurks in the dark recesses of those condensed mini meals?!
Now it’s taken on a whole new meaning.
It’s an adult with a parent and a child straddling each side of them. This sandwich is not as easy to replace. It is the blessed result of longevity. At one end are the pulls and pressures of being there for your children; on the other side are the parents who were always there for you, now needing you more.
This sandwich has a blessing on each side. The inside is comprised of an adult connected to each slice of bread and being chewed on by both. The challenge is navigating these blessings with efficiency and sensitivity. No party wants to feel neglected.
So how do you keep all the slices of bread happy, while not letting the inside slush out to the floor.
The important thing to remember is neither you nor your child would be here without the investment of your parents; Their sleepless nights, runs to the pediatrician, help with that persistent blight-homework, and their all-around worry and care.
Is it easy to split yourself in half or 1/4s or 1/8ths…?
Of course not. Each situation makes different demands. But here’s what separates the men from the boys, so to speak. It’s attitude!!
Some people have more help, some less, some have more challenges, some less. For some it’s not that difficult, and for some, it’s beyond. But the distinguishing factor is, mindset.
Of course, whenever and wherever possible getting more people involved is a life saver on both ends.
Listen, the specifics vary. But the formula for addressing it is the same. It’s kind of like trickle-down economics. Which says- that if high earners get an increase in income, then their greater wealth will filter through to all facets of society.
What I’m implying is-that if you treat the people at the top, in this case our greatest role models and original nurturers, with love and respect, then all the later generations realize this is the way to honor people in generations above them. The benefits thus filter down through all facets of society.
Is this easy by any means? No. Of course not. Your time is limited. You cannot be in 2 places at once. Everyone, may complain at times, you may feel pulled in multiple directions and overwhelmed. That is an inevitable part of the sandwich. Its parts are not optional, like adding relish or mayo.
Whenever possible-Hold your sandwich together with joint activities, and thereby you’ll blend and bond these gifts in your life!
General solutions only go so far, but how to navigate your specific situation is something unique to your family. All I can encourage is, as you go through it, remember one thing- that is -when you’re not too exhausted to think at all! Your kids, your parents -they may not be exactly how or where you want them to be. But these slices of bread, at both ends, are the blessings in your life. Whatever brand or consistency they are, they are the bread that holds and enfolds you! So try and keep your attitude one of hakarot hatov, gratitude. And then as you find yourself, running between them all, you won’t let yourself dissolve. You’ll tap in to that positive trickle-down theory and realize as you do, you teach.
All sandwiches are comprised of components. Some come together better than others. But for you, the one being squeezed in the middle, it’s not always easy. Remember – How the bread sits on you may have different pressures from each side. When you can’t control it, try and control your attitude toward it. Then hopefully the same sandwich won’t seem as challenging to eat. Because you’ll remember that without the pieces of bread on top, you’d never have the pieces of bread below.
Rivki Rosenwald is a certified relationship counselor, and career and life coach. She can be contacted at 917-705-2004 or firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com